The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York is looking into Harvey Weinstein’s relationship with the private spy firm Black Cube to determine whether the disgraced producer broke federal law in his efforts to stifle sexual harassment allegations against him.
Weinstein’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement on Thursday that his office had met with prosecutors in an effort to convince them that the arrangement was above-board. Brafman argued that Weinstein was compelled to defend himself given the “reckless disregard for the truth” displayed by some of his accusers, in an apparent reference to Asia Argento.
“We met with the SDNY to demonstrate that Black Cube was retained and supervised by prominent lawyers both in New York and in L.A., who we believed would never have authorized illegal activity of any kind,” Brafman said in the statement. “Furthermore, we also made clear that the sole objective was to enable Mr. Weinstein to effectively defend himself through legal action from serious and patently false allegations. If anything, recent developments have demonstrated the reckless disregard for the truth by certain of the key figures, whose accusations fueled the Weinstein investigation.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment on the investigation, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. According to the report, prosecutors are exploring whether the arrangement with Black Cube violated a federal law against wire fraud. The Journal reported that investigators are also probing Weinstein’s efforts to pay off accusers to keep them silent.
Weinstein is facing six state charges in New York, including rape and criminal sexual acts. No trial date has been set yet. He is also facing criminal investigations in Los Angeles and London.
The New Yorker reported last November that Weinstein hired Black Cube, which was founded by former Israeli spies, to gather information on actress Rose McGowan and others who were privately making allegations against him. The story also implicated Weinstein’s attorney David Boies, who told the magazine that it was a “mistake” to be involved in the spy operation.